Hamlet was Irish. In news that might surprise anyone but James Joyce, it turns out that the source model for the brooding Dane wasn't Danish at all.
Literature scholars have known for years that William Shakespeare based his famous tragedy Hamlet on the 12th-century story of Amleth. But until now few suspected the story is Irish, and not Scandinavian, in origin.
In 2011, Doctor Lisa Collinson, an expert in old Nordic languages from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, claimed that the tale of Amlothi (Shakespeare's source myth) is actually Irish.
"The name Amlothi is highly unlikely to be Norse in origin," Collinson told The Guardian newspaper.
Finding references to a character named Admlithi in an Irish story from the eighth or ninth century, Collinson discovered that it tells of a king who breaks social taboos and pays the price in a bloody finale.
Admlithi of Eire became Hamlet of Elsinore, Collinson believes. And we shouldn't be surpassed if stories that originated in Ireland, England or Denmark were traded alongside goods since Viking times.
"It’s likely that sailors played a critical role in the story’s transmission to Scandinavia," Collinson said.
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